Computational Model Library

System Narrative
How do rebel groups control territory and engage with the local economy during civil war? Charles Tilly’s seminal War and State Making as Organized Crime (1985) posits that the process of waging war and providing governance resembles that of a protection racket, in which aspiring governing groups will extort local populations in order to gain power, and civilians or businesses will pay in order to ensure their own protection. As civil war research increasingly probes the mechanisms that fuel local disputes and the origination of violence, we develop an agent-based simulation model to explore the economic relationship of rebel groups with local populations, using extortion racket interactions to explain the dynamics of rebel fighting, their impact on the economy, and the importance of their economic base of support. This analysis provides insights for understanding the causes and byproducts of rebel competition in present-day conflicts, such as the cases of South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Model Description
The model defines two object types: RebelGroup and Enterprise. A RebelGroup is a group that competes for power in a system of anarchy, in which there is effectively no government control. An Enterprise is a local civilian-level actor that conducts business in this environment, whose objective is to make a profit. In this system, a RebelGroup may choose to extort money from Enterprises in order to support its fighting efforts. It can extract payments from an Enterprise, which fears for its safety if it does not pay. This adds some amount of money to the RebelGroup’s resources, and they can return to extort the same Enterprise again. The RebelGroup can also choose to loot the Enterprise instead. This results in gaining all of the Enterprise wealth, but prompts the individual Enterprise to flee, or leave the model. This reduces the available pool of Enterprises available to the RebelGroup for extortion. Following these interactions the RebelGroup can choose to AllocateWealth, or pay its rebel fighters. Depending on the value of its available resources, it can add more rebels or expel some of those which it already has, changing its size. It can also choose to expand over new territory, or effectively increase its number of potential extorting Enterprises. As a response to these dynamics, an Enterprise can choose to Report expansion to another RebelGroup, which results in fighting between the two groups. This system shows how, faced with economic choices, RebelGroups and Enterprises make decisions in war that impact conflict and violence outcomes.

00b SimEvo_V5.08 NetLogo

Garvin Boyle | Published Sat Oct 5 08:29:38 2019

In 1985 Dr Michael Palmiter, a high school teacher, first built a very innovative agent-based model called “Simulated Evolution” which he used for teaching the dynamics of evolution. In his model, students can see the visual effects of evolution as it proceeds right in front of their eyes. Using his schema, small linear changes in the agent’s genotype have an exponential effect on the agent’s phenotype. Natural selection therefore happens quickly and effectively. I have used his approach to managing the evolution of competing agents in a variety of models that I have used to study the fundamental dynamics of sustainable economic systems. For example, here is a brief list of some of my models that use “Palmiter Genes”:
- ModEco - Palmiter genes are used to encode negotiation strategies for setting prices;
- PSoup - Palmiter genes are used to control both motion and metabolic evolution;
- TpLab - Palmiter genes are used to study the evolution of belief systems;
- EffLab - Palmiter genes are used to study Jevon’s Paradox, EROI and other things.

Peer reviewed COMMAND-AND-CONTROL

Farzaneh Davari | Published Tue Sep 10 19:53:53 2019 | Last modified Thu Sep 12 03:07:04 2019

The command and control policy in natural resource management, including water resources, is a longstanding established policy that has been theoretically and practically argued from the point of view of social-ecological complex systems. With the intention of making a system ecologically resilient, these days, policymakers apply the top-down policies of controlling communities through regulations. To explore how these policies may work and to understand whether the ecological goal can be achieved via command and control policy, this research uses the capacity of Agent-Based Modeling (ABM) as an experimental platform in the Urmia Lake Basin (ULB) in Iran, which is a social-ecological complex system and has gone through a drought process.

Despite the uncertainty of the restorability capacity of the lake, there has been a consensus on the possibility to artificially restore the lake through the nationally managed Urmia Lake Restoratoin Program (ULRP). To reduce water consumption in the Basin, the ULRP widely targets the agricultural sector and proposes the project of changing crop patterns from high-water-demand (HWD) to low-water-demand (LWD), which includes a component to control water consumption by establishing water-police forces.

Using a wide range of multidisciplinary studies about Urmia Lake at the Basin and sub-basins as well as qualitative information at micro-level as the main conceptual sources for the ABM, the findings under different strategies indicate that targeting crop patterns change by legally limiting farmers’ access to water could force farmers to change their crop patterns for a short period of time as long as the number of police constantly increases. However, it is not a sustainable policy for either changing the crop patterns nor restoring the lake.

Cultural Group Selection of Sustainable Institutions

Timothy Waring Sandra H Goff Paul Smaldino | Published Wed Jun 10 17:38:06 2015 | Last modified Tue Aug 4 14:14:05 2015

We develop a spatial, evolutionary model of the endogenous formation and dissolution of groups using a renewable common pool resource. We use this foundation to measure the evolutionary pressures at different organizational levels.

This model simulates different farmers’ decisions and actions to adapt to the water scarce situation. This simulation helps to investigate how farmers’ strategies may impact macro-behavior of the social-ecological system i.e. overall groundwater use change and emigration of farmers. The environmental variables’ behavior and behavioral rules of stakeholders are captured with Fuzzy Cognitive Map (FCM) that is developed with both qualitative and quantitative data, i.e. stakeholders’ knowledge and empirical data from studies. This model have been used to compare the impact of different water scarcity policies on overall groundwater use in a farming community facing water scarcity.

We develop an IBM that predicts how interactions between elephants, poachers, and law enforcement affect poaching levels within a virtual protected area. The model is theoretical at this stage and is not meant to provide a realistic depiction of poaching, but instead to demonstrate how IBMs can expand upon the existing modelling work done in this field, and to provide a framework for future research. The model could be further developed into a useful management support tool to predict the outcomes of various poaching mitigation strategies at real-world locations. The model was implemented in NetLogo version 6.1.0.

We first compared a scenario in which poachers have prescribed, non-adaptive decision-making and move randomly across the landscape, to one in which poachers adaptively respond to their memories of elephant locations and where other poachers have been caught by law enforcement. We then compare a situation in which ranger effort is distributed unevenly across the protected area to one in which rangers patrol by adaptively following elephant matriarchal herds.

Peer reviewed Collectivities

Nigel Gilbert | Published Tue Apr 9 16:16:43 2019 | Last modified Thu Aug 22 21:30:49 2019

The model that simulates the dynamic creation and maintenance of knowledge-based formations such as communities of scientists, fashion movements, and subcultures. The model’s environment is a spatial one, representing not geographical space, but a “knowledge space” in which each point is a different collection of knowledge elements. Agents moving through this space represent people’s differing and changing knowledge and beliefs. The agents have only very simple behaviors: If they are “lonely,” that is, far from a local concentration of agents, they move toward the crowd; if they are crowded, they move away.

Running the model shows that the initial uniform random distribution of agents separates into “clumps,” in which some agents are central and others are distributed around them. The central agents are crowded, and so move. In doing so, they shift the centroid of the clump slightly and may make other agents either crowded or lonely, and they too will move. Thus, the clump of agents, although remaining together for long durations (as measured in time steps), drifts across the view. Lonely agents move toward the clump, sometimes joining it and sometimes continuing to trail behind it. The clumps never merge.

The model is written in NetLogo (v6). It is used as a demonstration of agent-based modelling in Gilbert, N. (2008) Agent-Based Models (Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences). Sage Publications, Inc. and described in detail in Gilbert, N. (2007) “A generic model of collectivities,” Cybernetics and Systems. European Meeting on Cybernetic Science and Systems Research, 38(7), pp. 695–706.

The Palaeo-Agulhas Plain formed an important habitat exploited by Pleistocene hunter-gatherer populations during periods of lower sea level. This productive, grassy habitat would have supported numerous large-bodied ungulates accessible to a population of skilled hunters with the right hunting technology. It also provided a potentially rich location for plant food collection, and along its shores a coastline that moved with the rise and fall of sea levels. The rich archaeological and paleontological records of Pleistocene sites along the modern Cape south coast of South Africa, which would have overlooked the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain during Pleistocene times of lower sea level, provides a paleoarchive of this extinct ecosystem. In this paper, we present a first order illustration of the “palaeoscape modeling” approach advocated by Marean et al. (2015). We use a resourcescape model created from modern studies of habitat productivity without the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain. This is equivalent to predominant Holocene conditions. We then run an agent-based model of the human foraging system to investigate several research questions. Our agent-based approach uses the theoretical framework of optimal foraging theory to model human foraging decisions designed to optimize the net caloric gains within a complex landscape of spatially and temporally variable resources. We find that during the high sea-levels of MIS 5e (+5-6 m asl) and the Holocene, the absence of the Plain left a relatively poor food base supporting a much smaller population relying heavily on edible plant resources from the current Cape flora. Despite high species diversity of plants with edible storage organs, and marine invertebrates, encounter rates with highly profitable resources were low. We demonstrate that without the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain, human populations must have been small and low density, and exploited plant, mammal, and marine resources with relatively low caloric returns. The exposure and contraction of the Palaeo-Agulhas Plain was likely the single biggest driver of behavioral change during periods of climate change through the Pleistocene and into the transition to the Holocene.

Peer reviewed Garbage can model Excel reconstruction

Smarzhevskiy Ivan | Published Tue Aug 19 16:33:42 2014 | Last modified Tue Jul 30 06:39:54 2019

Reconstruction of the original code M. Cohen, J. March, and J. Olsen garbage can model, realized by means of Microsoft Office Excel 2010

Peer reviewed CHIME ABM Hurricane Evacuation Model

Joshua Watts | Published Fri Mar 3 18:13:53 2017 | Last modified Wed May 29 19:07:52 2019

The CHIME ABM explores information distribution networks and agents’ protective decision making in the context of hurricane landfall.

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